Michael Chabon and Yiddish

Michael Chabon got the idea for his book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, after discovering a Yiddish phrase-book called “Say it in Yiddish” from the 1950’s. He embarrassed himself by writing an essay treating the book as an anachronism and making fun of people who wanted to learn to say “I need a tourniquet” in Yiddish. He lateer laerned that the book had been commissioned by a publisher for the benefit of tourists to Israel, where Yiddish was still widely spoken. Chabon might find it interesting that Yiddish is still spoken in Ramat Gan today (and, of course, in many charedi communities). You can find more in the afterword of his book.


  1. I just read that book. While enjoyable, it was very strange.

  2. I read his other book, Kavalier and Clay. While he is a witty writer, I think he thinks Judaism is dead or old and antiquated. I don’t care much for his politics.

  3. mother in israel says

    I would have to call this one anti-religious.

  4. so, would you recommend reading the book, or not?

  5. I tried to read the book but simply could not get into it. It was most definitely weird, and I sensed a sneering tone in its attitude towards Yiddishkeit.
    Nicht for mich (not for me) as my grandmother would say.

  6. mother in israel says

    I have mixed feelings about it, RivkA. Overall I would say it was good.

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